November 3, 2006
A Closer Look at Plunging Circulation
Via a friend; Rick Edmonds
As was widely reported, the six-month circulation numbers for U.S. newspapers released earlier this week carried plenty of bad news: an industry-wide tumble year-to-year of 2.8% daily and 3.4% on Sunday. There were much deeper losses in big metro markets like Boston, Los Angeles and Miami.
Posted by James Zellmer at November 3, 2006 1:24 PM
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As grim as those numbers are, a deeper look into the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) reports and into some online data released by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), makes the overall economic picture even a little bleaker.
True to their word, most companies and individual papers continue to burn so-called “junk” circulation, such as the category called “other paid” as well as third-party or bulk sales, all of it of little value to advertisers. That would support the idea that the business is pruning numbers, but improving the quality of its circulation.
Take the six largest papers of Lee Enterprises (Lee owns half of Capitol Newspapers), the best circulation performer among public companies. Together they achieved a highly respectable daily loss of just 0.3%. However those same papers lost 25,000 circulation among those paying 50 percent or greater of the full price of the paper, a drop of 4.1%. At the same time, it added 13,500 in the 25 to 50 percent category, a 43.9% increase. That means the papers had significant losses among subscribers paying a higher percentage of the full price while adding readers who paid more steeply discounted rate